Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and with it, the end of the college football regular season. The few teams still in contention for the College Football Playoff only have a handful of games left to make their case. Here’s how the most recent week of college football went down:
The marquee matchup in week 12 sure lived up to all of the hype. No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor was billed as an elimination game between the two best teams in the Big 12, and both teams certainly played like their playoff hopes were on the line. The Sooners especially showed their grit and determination to stay in the playoff hunt by not throwing in the towel when they went down by 25 points in Waco, Texas. Oklahoma gave up no second-half points to the Bears’ potent offense and scored the final 24 points of the game to secure a major road win. After 12 weeks, Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) finally has a standout victory on its résumé and has the inside track to a Big 12 championship …
… But despite the Sooners’ big accomplishment, the selection committee saw fit to only move them up one spot in its rankings, putting them in ninth. The come-from-behind victory did not give the Sooners the boost in the rankings they were hoping for. Oklahoma still sits behind No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah and is even still ranked below No. 8 Penn State. Clearly, the committee is saying that it does not put much stock in the Big 12’s strength and that it still holds Oklahoma’s loss to floundering Kansas State against it. If beating an undefeated Baylor team in Waco isn’t enough to impress the committee, I don’t know what would be. The way it looks, the Sooners would need a lot of help to get into the playoff at this point, and I’m very doubtful they’ll get it.
Not many people have been paying attention to No. 13 Michigan over the past couple of weeks, but the Wolverines (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) have been dominant in their last three games or so. Two of them were against fierce rivals, Notre Dame and Michigan State, and the Wolverines conquered both of them by large margins. Michigan’s average margin of victory in its last three games is 32 points. Defensive coordinator Don Brown’s defense is shutting opponents down, while senior quarterback Shea Patterson is settling into a rhythm that’s allowing this offense to hum. Even though Ohio State still has Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) on its schedule, with the way Michigan is playing, you could argue that the Wolverines are the toughest obstacle in the Buckeyes’ path right now. And you know Jim Harbaugh will relish the chance to land a blow to Ohio State’s perfect season and earn his first victory against Michigan’s fierce rivals to the South.
For the second time in two games, No. 5 Alabama’s season took a big hit. In week 11, the hit came in the form of the Crimson Tide’s loss to LSU, their first home loss in four years. This past week, the hit took the form of an injury to a key player. Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained a dislocated hip in Alabama’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, an injury that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Mac Jones is expected to step into the starting role for the remainder of the year. Jones performed admirably in his single start this season, when Tagovailoa was nursing an ankle injury, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas. However, it is obviously very doubtful that Alabama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) will be as good with Jones under center as it was with Tagovailoa. The Crimson Tide already needs help to make the College Football Playoff, and this costly injury isn’t doing them any favors.
Honorable Mention: Oregon State
Every Power Five conference seems to have that one team that’s perennially terrible. The Big 12 has Kansas, the Big Ten has Rutgers and the SEC has Vanderbilt. In the Pac-12, the distinction usually goes to Oregon State, a program that won only nine games from 2015 to 2018, but this season things are turning out differently. The Beavers are 5-5 through 10 games this year and are only one win away from becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2013. Sometimes it’s the less important things in college football that are the most interesting.